Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Akiko Kurose Interview I
Narrator: Akiko Kurose
Interviewer: Matt Emery
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: July 17, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-kakiko-01-0017

<Begin Segment 17>

ME: What were you feeling when you first got off the bus at the Puyallup fairgrounds?

AK: Like, "Where are we? And what are we doing here?" was my first reaction. And, we were given numbers and we were waiting to get our assignments. And when we were given the assignment to go to the barrack it was very, very dismal, because it was, "This is where we're going to stay?"


AK: I'm sure a lot of people were spectators just driving by to see what it was all about. But, several of my classmates came by. This Maryjo Forcell, who's a white girl at Garfield, brought me a little carving set. And, I just had a reunion with her last year, and she still has the thing that I carved for her. And it just goes way back, and Mamie Chinn, this Chinese girl who was my classmate, always came by and brought us ginger and ingamoi, which was something that Niseis were always buying and eating. So that many nice people came by to offer help, and bring goodies and things. And then, there were those spectators that would drive by, and you know, sneer at you and make comments. So there were both.

ME: What kind of comments would people make?

AK: Like "Jap, go back." And we keep saying, "Why do they keep telling us to go back?" You know, because go back to Japan, because we were never there. But it was just that kind of a war hysteria. And I think it was as devastating for them to have a whole, you know, group of Japanese right near them. In a camp that might be, they may have felt threatened also. But a very strange reaction, because you don't know whether, you know, well, it's just so different. And I don't know what we were expecting. We certainly weren't expecting the Ritz, but we certainly weren't expecting stalls like that. We went as farm workers to pick beans and things, but our living quarters were better than that. [Laughs] At least we had private bunks and whatever.

ME: So all six of you were in, essentially, a horse stable?

AK: No, ours -- I was not in the horse stable. We were in the barracks. Area A was the one that had most of the horse stables and animal stables. And we were in the parking lot.

ME: You mentioned that you carved something for your friend that gave you the carving kit. What was it exactly?

AK: It was a ring, a friendship ring, and she still has it. Which was very interesting. And also I still have the carving set. And it's years.

ME: What did the ring look like?

AK: It was very plain. Just with little carving. I don't even know how I did that. [Laughs] But her father had given me chunks of wood and a carving set. There was a lot of that kind of friendship that went on. And we didn't have much discussion of what's going on. I think today if this would have occurred, we would have community meetings and more discussion. But our leaders were very young then, and naturally when we were dispersed like that they weren't able to help out. The average older Nisei was like twenty-one years old, being that twenty-one and in a peaceful situation, you not very concerned about those things, they were in school most of them, not that community-oriented. People are different these days; they're more into community and interaction.

<End Segment 17> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.